Review: Udan (2010)

Udan (2010)

Directed by: Vikramaditya Motwane | 134 minutes | drama | Actors: Ronit Roy, Ram Kapoor, Rajat Barmecha, Manjot Singh, Anand Tiwari, Aayan Boradia, Aarhan Roy Chowdhury, Jayanta Das, Sanjay Gandhi, Raja Hudda, Varun Khettry, Arvind Kumar, Sumant Mastkar, Jyoti Mishra, Ishika Mohan, Sunil Mohan Mohammad Nizam, Sonia Rajsurana, Nichita Roy, Ruchika Roy, Akshay Sachdev, Khushkeran Singh Sandhu, Raha Sarma, Shaunak Sengupta, Shashi Sharma, Rajani Shekhar, Sonia Talwar

Writer and director Vikramaditya Motwane admits that the recognition at Cannes has been a big boost for the film and his self-confidence. Motwane, only 33 years old and, according to himself, terribly nervous during the casting and the early days of production, states that he initially wanted to make an independent, but certainly commercial film, aimed at an Indian audience. However, the film ended up at several festivals in Europe and the United States. The fact that the festival audience embraces his coming-of-age film in this way is an unexpected surprise to him.

‘Udaan’ tells the story of Rohan (Rajat Barmecha), who, after spending eight years in a strict Indian boys’ boarding school, returns to his parental home, where after the death of his mother, his dictatorial father (Ronit Roy) holds sway. Although the two haven’t seen or spoken to each other in eight years, there’s no sign of affection from father’s side when he picks up his son from the train. At home, Rohan discovers that his room has been occupied by Arjun, a hitherto unknown half-brother of 8, played charmingly by the young Aayan Boradia. As most teenagers would react, Rohan is outraged at first, then tries to ignore his little brother, and finally has no choice but to take him under his wing and keep him out of the hands of their overbearing father.

In Indian society, respect for the elderly in general and parents in particular has reached an almost divine height. A child should take the wishes and orders of his or her parents seriously and – especially in public – show appropriate submission. Director Motwane makes short shrift of this old-fashioned-looking straitjacket by showing the stupidity and incomprehension of this parenting belief. Father Bhairav ​​– who likes to be addressed as ‘sir’ – does not evoke sympathy in any scene, which on the one hand increases the urgency of the film, but on the other hand makes him a bit one-dimensional as a character. In addition to criticism of this hierarchical character of Indian society, strong criticism is also expressed of the machismo present. Despite a noticeable absence of women in the film, ‘Udaan’ with two extremely masculine roles shows the impossibility of the traditional Indian man (or certainly this type), as well as the possibilities of the future version. The virtues that a man like Bhairav ​​radiates (industry, health, self-discipline) may be worth pursuing, but the megalomaniac behavior towards both his children and other adults is clearly out of date. The frustration that this realization especially brings to himself is painfully well portrayed. It is not without reason that the main swear word he uses against his meek son is ‘girl’, while he himself tries to prove his manhood through cowardly actions. He pushes Arjun down the stairs after he’s had an argument at school, and forbids Rohan to pursue his own dreams. Rather, he forces him to work in his factory in order to regain his manhood. Not only does the film show how much the extremely dominant father role can spoil children; he also shows how easily it is passed on from father to son. Rohan soon finds himself repeating his father’s patterns towards his little brother, which makes him realize once again that only by breaking free will they give their lives a chance to succeed.

Rajat Bharmecha, who plays the main character Rohan, will easily steal the hearts of the viewers with his big brown eyes and sensitive facial expression. He has just the right adolescent aura about him, in which a last touch of childhood is accompanied by a more mature identity, which in Rohan is initially held back by his tyrannical father, but is eventually reinforced by the opposition to a point where nothing can stop him anymore. In fact ‘Udaan’ does not contain more than this development, but the film does so with feeling and emotion.

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